North Star Model 192
A very cute face plate a'la Jeff Rowland (the uneven surface is a
The display and functional buttons as well as a cheapest Philips remote
come from the 300 Eu CD-PRO2 Philips kit.
As most cottage industry players - this is a top loader which means :
"we dont have resources to make a drawer".
I am okay with that. That is - only untill the 4th glass of wine.
The puck is better than most that I have seen.
The battle of two VERY capable philipses- my Fikus Transport 1,0 and
the North Star. What a battle that was !
As you can see, thgis machine has all 3 ways of communication - S/PDIF,
AES/EBU, and I2S. The latter being the best. It is not surprising,
neither it is a big success of North Star as the CD-PRO2 kit has all 3
readily available on the main PCB. So N-S only wired these signals to
Two transformers of the N-S power supply section. Quite good I must
Two AC secondaries of the power supply and a row of RAW supply
Regulators - premium type - not the standard 7805's. Bravo.
The power supply in its full glory - 5 standing and 2 lying regulators.
Basically what it is - is my sixpack built for the Philips project. So
North Star added to the CD-PRO2 kit - the box, top sliding lid, and two
transformers with 7 regulation stages. What the KIT is normally asking
for. Not that it is bad, but I see no innovations here. They call
themselves DESIGN, they could have come up with something better. Or am
I being picky ? Noo, not picky, just ... the 2500 Eu ticket is
bugging me a little.
The soft suspension by springs - I think this also comes standard with
the kit CD-PRO2
The KIT output of SP/DIF is wired directly to the output without any
intervention of North Star Design. Thank god for that.
There is some rocket science from N-S visible on the excellent and very
professional PCB, but God knows what For. If
Philips provided already all outputs from the PCB - what is this quartz
for ? Upsampling perhaps ?
CD-PRO2 kit transport
Very familiar cheap plastic VAM mechanism is lurking from underneath
it's shiny armour made of alloy. It is an el-cheapo pretending to be
The above is VAM1201 costing 12 EU in a shop. Looks familiar ?
VAU1254 mechanism called CD-PRO2. What is really very pro is the PCB of
controller, but by all means - for God's sake - NOT the mechanism ! It
retails for Eu15 as VAM1205.
FROM NORTH STAR
digital combo Model 192 is a system based on a pair of completely
separated units; the CD-Transport M192 MKII equipped with the full
metal Philips CD-Pro2M mechanism..."
Hey Signore Italiano, do we speak the same English? Full Metall
Philips motherboard is unmodded, NS could have done better by applying
power supply mods HERE. And taking S/PDIF from the PCB not from stock
There is even a DAC TDA1305 shall anyone make it a portable walkman.
(Shhhh Sony will sue me for using the W word).
This is the servo motor - a 2 Dollar 75 Cents mabuchi from China with
fulll plastic mechanics.
Above - is the plastic VAM1201 mechanism from marantz CD63.
The above is again VAM1201 from Marantz CD63. Motor and bearing and
tooth-wheel looks familiar ???
CD-PRO2 above again - Sorry guys - no metal here, no beryllum, no
bearings, no titanium - it
is a shigaraki style flimsy transport packed in alu can. Just look at
the axis bearing of the big white tooth-wheel !!
The main turntable spindle motor - a 3,99 $ mabuchi again. Just like in
my CDM-9. And just like in VAM1201 for 12 EU in total. See below
photo. Looks familiar ?
The VAm1201 motor for main CD spindle. Just like in CD-PRO2. Full metal
- remember ?
Open kimono time with the CD- PRO2 mechanism revealed. A cheap
boombox or DVD mechanism packed in a sexy alloy can to justify the 20 x
It plays very well but just lets not get fooled again.
The Matrioshka - thats what comes to my mind when I thinkl of a North
Star transport. The more I open it, the less it looks like 2500 Euro.
Deep inside - the last doll - is just a standard laser pickup
assembly like any other , simple, delicate, chinese and plastic.
Dressed in 4 levels of marketing - manage to sing well but calling that
PRO is for me an overstatement.
This is the stock SPDIF trace at the output but without the DAC load
This is working signal trace. Not tooo bad in fact, but it is
definitely not 2500 Eu kind of trace.
Having said all that - this transport plays very very good, it is
excellent even on S/PDIF coax, it should be better with AES/EBU and
best with I2S. Maybe one day I will try it.
It beats hands down every CD player used as transport (unmodded). Its
built is first class, it reads all CD's and it is quite cute. My
biggest reservation is price, dirty SPDIF trace (AES EBU as well) and
cheap remote worth I euro. But generally - I dont have the feeling that
someone is trying to fool us or cheat us. Honest player from Italy.